Tun Arifin Zakaria is duty-bound as Chairman of JAC to satisfactory account for the by-passing of promotion to Federal Court of the country’s most respected serving judge, Justice Hishammdin

The Chief Justice, Tun Arifin Zakaria is duty bound as Chairman of the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) to satisfactorily account for the by-passing of promotion to the Federal Court of the country’s most respected serving judge, Justice Mohd Hishamudin Mohd Yunus.

Arifin had previously tried to shirk from his duty of national accountability when he was asked in September 2013 why Justice Hishammuddin was by-passed from promotion to the Federal Court in the batch of judicial elevations at the time, claiming that the elevation of judges was made without the influence of anyone and that it was at the prerogative of the Yang di Pertuan Agong on the advice of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

Arifin is right that the elevation of judges is not 100 per cent the prerogative of the JAC, but it is beneath the dignity of the Chief Justice to hum and haw claiming that it is unfair for the media or anyone to question the fate of any particular judge.

It has been reported that Justice Hishammuddin’s name was omitted from the promotion list in 2013 as a result of a directive from the Prime Minister’s Office, after the recommendation of his elevation to the Federal Court had passed through the JAC.
Justice Hishamudin’s name was missing again on the promotions list released on Feb. 16 this year, this time by-passed in favour of Justice Zaharah Ibrahim.

This is the era of accountability, transparency, open government with the Prime Minister’s much-flaunted National Transformation Programme.

The black-listing and by-passing of Justice Hishamuddin from elevation to the Federal Court is the best proof that the JAC had acted arbitrarily to sideline independent judges of unquestioned integrity who are fully committed to uphold the law and the Constitution instead acceding to pressures from various quarters.

Malaysians still remember the horrors in the appointment of judges revealed by the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Lingam Video Tape Scandal, and the still unresolved issues from the RCI Report.

Arifin should not be satisfied with low fruits and standards saying that there is now more transparency in judicial appointments since the formation of the JAC compared with appointments done before 2009.

Malaysians do not just want a system better than the horror-days of the Lingam Videotape Scandal, but a judicial appointment system comparable to the best in the world which can bear public scrutiny and criticism, like the present case for the by-passing of Justice Hishammuddin not only twice from elevation to the Federal Court, but also for the earlier injustices suffered by him when he was overlooked for promotion to the Court of Appeal and was stuck as a High Court judge for 14 years.

Was Justice Hishammuddin being punished for life in the judicial service as being too independent-minded and for his series of landmark judgements, which shows his respect for the law and constitution?

It would be difficult to find another judge who could command as much respect from the Bar for his integrity, independence and respect for the law and Constitution.

If the lawyers have a say, Justice Hishammuddin would have been the favourite choice to be the Chief Justice of the land leading Malaysia to a golden age of new international respect and acclaim for a truly independent judiciary and a just rule of law instead of languishing for 14 years as a High Court and compulsorily retiring in September this year from the Court of Appeal.

If the Chief Justice is unable to give any or satisfactory explanation on behalf of the JAC for the by-passing of promotion of Justice Hishammuddin to the Federal Court, the Bar and lawyer should demand their voices should be heard loud and clear.

Surely Malaysia doe not need another Royal Commission of Inquiry into another judicial scandal before standards of judicial ethics and appointments are raised?

  1. #1 by boh-liao on Wednesday, 25 February 2015 - 6:48 pm

    Birds of DIFFERENT feathers DON’T flock together mah
    HOW lah 2 promote d “most respected serving judge” 2 rub shoulder with birds of DIFFERENT feathers

    Anyway, AhCheatKor, where got time lah 2 care abt dis

    Right now, it’s abt HAIR n more HAIR, thick black hair, just like d semivalue’s hair but on d head of a stumpy 1
    Can’t imagine, Year of the Sheep, whacked by hair, can MEH, meh

    Furthermore, 4 brothers exposing d eldest brother’s family’s false claim of heritage wealth
    Sure can MEH, meh

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